Some Assembly Required

BMW Workers Get 3D-Printed Super Thumbs, Are Basically Cyborgs Now

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 9.41.31 AM

Each year, smarter, more efficient robots join assembly lines and put skilled mechanics out of a job. But BMW is helping its workers fight back, and has started 3D printing physical enhancements for its factory workers so they can break the rising tide of the machine takeover.

BMW has started custom-designing and 3D printing thumb carapaces to protect workers from the strain of their labor. To develop the super-thumbs, the team at the BMW manufacturing plant in Munich teamed up with the Technical University of Munich’s Ergonomics Department to use 3D printing — which BMW calls the “talk of the town” — to solve the problem of thumb strain. Read More

Planet GOOG

Looks Like Google Glass Will Be Assembled on American Soil

Pfft, American. (Photo: Google)

Hey America, don’t say Google never did anything for you: Looks like Google Glass will be made right here in the good old U. S. of A. That’s according to the Financial Times says, citing sources “familiar with the company’s plans.”

The president’s speechwriters have likely already popped this news into the Google Doc where they spitball ideas for the next State of the Union. Read More

Meet Your Maker

At a Ribbon-Cutting for Shapeways’ ‘Factory of the Future,’ Bloomberg Talks New York Tech

The crowded presser for the factory of the future. (Photo: Shapways' Instagram)

This morning, Betabeat ventured forth to the industrial environs of Long Island City for a ribbon-cutting at what’s being billed as the “factory of the future.”

Naturally, quite a few tech scene regulars were in attendance, like New York City Economic Development Corporation president Seth Pinsky. But, by and large, it was mayor Michael Bloomberg’s show–that, and of course Shapeways, the company that’ll soon be 3D printing user-generated designs right were we were standing.

“There are plenty of good reasons we want New York City to be the epicenter of the industry, something, folks, that the factory and the research lab here at Shapeways will help make possible,” he told us, before adding, for anyone missing the point: “This is the future of our city.” Read More

Funtimes at Foxconn

NYT Tech Columnist David Pogue’s Silence on Foxconn Persists, Even After the Times’s Damning Expose

The man and his muse

On the front page of today’s New York Times is a massive umbrella piece about China’s Foxconn—who manufactures, among other things, Apple iPhones—and the sub-humane, dangerous conditions their workers assemble these products under. It is, in many ways, as astonishing as it is unsurprising, and it’s as depressing a systemic problem as they come.

So what does the Apple fan’s Apple fan—the New York Times‘s own David Pogue, the (somewhat controversial) most widely-read technology columnist in the country—have to say about Apple’s relationship to Foxconn? Especially given the front page of today’s Times, do these sorts of revelations about their manufacturing processes change the way he feels and/or writes about Apple? Read More